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Twin reports from a state committee formed to review the Common Core found the education standards to be at least equal to and in many ways superior to the state's previous grade-level benchmarks.
Committee members, who were picked to advise Gov. Gary Herbert about the national controversial guidelines, said Monday they are concerned about the implementation of the Common Core and stressed a need for the state to invest in teacher training.
Overall, the committee determined the Common Core is based on sound research and practices and, if implemented properly, would prepare students for careers or college coursework.
"I would be delighted if all students at the University of Utah had mastered the standards of secondary math," said Peter Trapa a mathematics professor and member of the committee.
The standards review committee is part of a multipronged effort by the governor to address the controversy surrounding the Common Core standards, which outline the minimum skills a student should master each year in math and English. Utah and most states have adoped the standards.
Herbert asked Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to conduct a legal review of the State School Board's adoption of the Common Core. Reyes delivered his report last fall, finding that the adoption of the core standards was lawful and preserved state control of education.
The governor also launched a website last summer to collect public comment on the Common Core. The website gathered more than 7,000 responses, which were then turned over to the standards review committee.
University of Utah professor Maureen Mathison presented the committee report on Utah's English standards. She praised the Core's emphasis on informational texts and reading comprehension, and the way the standards progress incrementally from kindergarten through 12th grade.
"We think, in the short term, yes, this is very much going to help students be more successful," she said.
Members of the committee questioned whether Utah's colleges and universities had started to see any positive effects of the Common Core.
Diana Suddreth, a coordinator with the Utah State Office of Education, said more students are taking Advanced Placement and other college-level classes. But she said it's unclear if the new curriculum has contributed to those trends, because the standards are still in the early stages of implementation.
"The oldest a student could be who is engaged in the Core is a senior this year," she said.
The committee is expected to present its final recommendations Herbert in the coming weeks.
Committee chairman Rich Kendell said he didn't want to make assumptions about what those recommendations would be. But Kendell said he was pleased with the work and diligence of the panel members.
"I thought both reports were very well-written, very well-prepared and I thought, generally, very supportive of the Utah Core," Kendell said.